My books

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life

Now available from Verso; also in Russian, Turkish, Simplified Chinese, Polish, Italian and French.

Tremendously intelligent and stylish…a landmark primer.” – Steven Poole, The Guardian.

“Brilliant and scary.” — Saskia Sassen.

“This is an essential book.” — Brian Eno.

“Against the smart city”

One of Verso’s Books of the Year, 2013!
Buy “Against the smart city” for Kindle.
Buy “Against the smart city” in hardcopy.

From the smartphones in our pockets and the cameras on the lampposts to sensors in the sewers, the sidewalks and the bike-sharing stations, the contemporary city is permeated with networked information technology. So what does the future hold for our increasingly technologized urban places? Who decides how this technology is used? For whose benefit is it deployed, and in whose interests?

As promoted by enterprises like IBM, Siemens and Cisco Systems, the vision of the “smart city” proposes that this technology can be harnessed by municipal administrators to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency, security, convenience and sustainability. But a closer look at what this body of ideas actually consists of suggests that such a city will not, and cannot, serve the interests of the people who live in it.

In “Against the smart city,” I explore the ways in which this discourse treats the city as an abstraction, misunderstands (or even undermines) the processes that truly do generate meaning and value — and winds up making many of the same blunders that doomed the High Modernist urban planning of the twentieth century. My hope is that “Against the smart city” both provides an intellectual toolkit for those of us who are interested in resisting this sterile and unappealing vision, and lays important groundwork for the far more fruitful alternatives to come.

Here’s what some folks I really respect have said about the pamphlet:

“Adam Greenfield does for ‘urban renewal’ in the twenty-first century what Jane Jacobs did for it in the twentieth.” – Ian Bogost, Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology.

“A critical inquiry into the constrained reality of the smart city and its free-floating narratives. Adam Greenfield’s vast knowledge about the subject allows him to pinpoint the extreme moment where ‘the ideology of the smart city finds its purest expression.’ A great piece of analysis, a sharp exegesis — and great writing.” – Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of The Global City.

“For those who believe technology’s finest, most broadly-empowering urban applications have not yet been deployed, this book is for you. It is less ‘against’ the dominant smart city narrative than a foundation for what we might yet assemble from the parts and pieces that remain after Greenfield’s done deconstructing it.” – John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer, City of Chicago.

“Adam cuts the smart city marketing game to the quick. He reminds us, like the great urbanists before him, that cities are about people — people who shape their city from the bottom up with their character, agency, independence and yes, intelligence.” – Benjamin de la Peña, The Knight Foundation.

“A cogent debunking of the smart city. Adam Greenfield breaks down the term with wit and clarity, exposing that the smart city may be neither very smart nor very city at all. An insightful, timely and refreshing read that will make you rethink the city of tomorrow.” – J. Meejin Yoon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, architect and designer.

“Every ‘Smart City’ advocate in the world should read this short book. Read it now, before people show up at the City Council and start quoting it.” – Bruce Sterling, author of Shaping Things.

Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing

Buy here.

My 2006 book, Everyware, is also available for purchase from Amazon.

As the subtitle suggests, it’s about an important change I see unfolding in the world: the emergence of a computing without computers, where information processing is almost imperceptible, but everywhere around us.

Smart buildings, smart furniture, smart clothing…even smart bathtubs. Networked street signs and self-describing soda cans. Gestural interfaces like those seen in Minority Report. The RFID tags now embedded in everything from credit cards to the family pet. All of these are facets of the class of technologies I think of as “everyware.”

In the book’s 81 brief theses, I explore various facets of the way everyware is already reshaping our lives, transforming our understanding of the cities we live in, the communities we belong to – and the way we see ourselves. What does this mean to those of us who will be encountering it? How will it transform our lives? And how will we learn to make wise decisions about something so hard to see?

(And hey, it’s also available in French. What could possibly be better?)

“Urban Computing and its Discontents”

'Urban Computing and its Discontents'

Finally, you may also be interested in the pamphlet I co-authored with Mark Shepard for the Architectural League of New York’s Situated Technologies series, “Urban Computing and its Discontents.” It’s available for POD purchase or free download from Lulu.

39 responses to “My books”

  1. Jon says :

    Excellent, I posted an article along similar lines, check it out

    I was surprised to come along your blog as I was just randomly jumping from blog to blog. I’ll check out your book.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Andrea Vaccari - 17 April 2008
  2. Putting people first - 9 July 2008
  3. Putting People First in italiano - 4 September 2008
  4. mauro pinheiro - 4 October 2008
  5. cataspanglish - 17 October 2008
  6. cataspanglish - 2 November 2008
  7. The street as platform - 7 November 2008
  8. Adam Greenfield: This Charming Man « cataspanglish - 23 November 2008
  9. PodCamp Barcelona Podcast 2 - Adam Greenfield: Human Again - PodCamp Barcelona - 6 December 2008
  10. UgoTrade - 2 June 2009
  11. cataspanglish blog - 26 July 2009
  12. cataspanglish - 28 July 2009
  13. cataspanglish - 28 July 2009
  14. MindTrek - 24 August 2009
  15. UgoTrade - 27 September 2009
  16. Stephane Zwahlen - 20 October 2009
  17. - 7 May 2010
  18. Kfe Innovacion - 30 June 2010
  19. Urban Omnibus » Hyperlocal news makes news: the case of Everyblock - 28 September 2010
  20. Announcing: Cognitive Cities – Your Neighbours - 10 December 2010
  21. Adam Greenfield: This Charming Man « Cataspanglish - 7 October 2011
  22. DIGITAL URBAN LIVING – Konference i Aarhus Musikhus d.22. marts « StudArk - 14 March 2012
  23. BA/T5, Marketing through Blogjects? | Toothless Tiger - 12 April 2012
  24. Matt Jones on Data as Seductive Material | Stamen Design - 27 July 2012
  25. The Pervasive Internet Changes Everything | Geoff Livingston's Blog - 14 November 2012
  26. Thinking through the time of Mr. Seel’s Garden – fields - 24 February 2013
  27. No to NoUI – Timo Arnall - 13 March 2013
  28. Review of ‘Code/space’ by Kitchin & Dodge | Sam Kinsley - 5 July 2013
  29. GREG VERDINO - 8 October 2013
  30. Nokia Conversations : the official Nokia blog - 18 October 2013
  31. Architettura dell’informazione della città - Luca Rosati - 23 August 2014
  32. From a sociopathic civilisation to a socio-therapeutic civilisation | WazArs - 15 October 2014
  33. Flaws of the Smart City | Design Friction - 2 November 2014
  34. GREG VERDINO - 1 April 2015
  35. Microsoft Devices Blog - 14 October 2015
  36. The Rest Project - 26 October 2016
  37. Smart Citys: Technologie allein reicht nicht – Agile Verwaltung - 20 August 2018
  38. Is My iPhone Too Smart? – NoSlackr - 29 December 2020